October 30, 2011

Marvel Snapshot: The Uncanny X-Joke

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Written by: Billy
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What’s happening out there in the world of comic books? I’m back and so is my weekly column called Marvel Snapshot! Now, some of you may be thinking, isn’t this a character spotlight column? Most of the time, yes, but every once in a while I get annoyed enough about a certain book or character, that I feel compelled to sound off about. This time around it’s the X-Men and the direction they’ve been going in for some time now. And that direction is a nosedive right into the ground, or a brick swirling around the bowl maybe…anyway, before I go really way too far, let me get to the meat and potatoes of this rant of sorts.

Right now in X-Men…well, I actually haven’t read an X-Men book in some time, to be honest. This is something I never thought would happen, but I was so turned off by the lack of excitement in the X-Men universe, I stopped buying and haven’t even been close to buying one from what I’ve been hearing. Let’s travel back to the 90s in my Wayback Machine. I remember the X-Men quite fondly in a time that people routinely bad mouth. The first X-book I ever bought was Uncanny X-Men #300, and it would be one of many to come. I was drawn to the foil cover (yeah, I know how that sounds), but the pages inside were what really impressed me. I’d seen the X-Men on cartoons before, but didn’t know a lot about them, but after a few pages I felt like I’d known the characters for years. The X-Men were about to face Fabian Cortez and his Acolytes that were sworn to the cause of Magneto. This, along with a deadly virus that kills mutants, is going  to blow up in their faces and they don’t see it coming. At this point, I couldn’t wait for the next book to come out, so I did what anyone would do. I went to the nearest comic shop and started buying in reverse order. I was blown away even more when I read X-cutioners Song, which preceded this newest arc!

The point to all this recollection is that I couldn’t wait for another X-book to be in my hands, which is the polar opposite of how I feel right now. I could care less about the X-Men from what I read in reviews, in Diamond Previews every month, and so on. I mean, back then you had twists and turns, deaths, defections, new characters with actual depth, and yes, resurrections as always, too. I did cool off with comics altogether in the late 90s, but quickly started back up when I saw a hardcover that looked absolutely amazing called Rise and Fall of the Shi’ar Empire! Being a Marvel Cosmic lover, this was a no-brainer. X-Men, Shi’ar, cool new villain (Vulcan), and Rachel Summers! I loved this story and most that followed, but after issue #500, this group just seemed to go downhill fast for me. The Scott/Emma/Jean triangle, moody Wolverine in five different books at one time, and no real continuity with a writer or artist that could keep my attention led me to drop all my X-books (with the exception of Uncanny X-Force), and not look back. All I read about is “what could have been” or “they (Marvel) dropped the ball on this latest book,” and the current rift between Cyclops and Wolverine is just annoying to even think about at this point.

What a minute, what’s that? Is Jean coming back to save the day? Who cares. Yeah, I said it, and I’m sticking to my guns on this one. Not even a tease of her resurrection will get me buying anytime soon. At this point, I don’t know what will, to be honest. I guess some might think this was a rant, but really, it’s more like a written letter about my disappointment to the masses. It might even be a company wide disappointment, as I’ve drifted towards Dark Horse, Zenescope, Image, and other smaller publishers (compared to Marvel) to quench my comic book thirst. So, at this point, I think I’ve been cured of being a Marvel zombie…by Marvel?

Billy Dunleavy



  1. Jeff Jackson

    Hey Billy, not to sound like a hypocrite, because I certainly have my critiques on the X-Men books, but how can you judge on things you haven’t read? While I agree that the X-Men have lost their luster overall, there are some really great spots. You mentioned Uncanny X-Force, but also X-Factor is consistently excellent. And if you haven’t read the first issue of Wolverine & the X-Men, and you like a classic feel with a great cast and a new direction, then you should check it out.

    Everyone’s “first time” with the X-Men is always the best, but I think you should check out this new direction before you judge it.

  2. Billy

    Jeff, I totally see where you’re coming from and while I haven’t read Regenesis, I did read bits and pieces of different X-titles up to and including Schism. Between reviews, chirps, podcasts, etc., I think I can formulate a pretty good idea of the waste of money the X-titles have become. I did pick up a couple issues of X-Factor as well, and they were definitely better than Uncanny and Legacy, but in my opinion nothing to get excited about either. I used to feel the way you do about X-Men, but I just got to a point where I said enough is enough. I’m still sort of in this mindset with Avengers though. I’m really trying to stay with them through thick and usually thin, but its wearing on me with that group as well. I’ve completely seen the light outside of Marvel as far as smaller publishers and even **gasp** DC. A couple of their more offbeat #1’s have been pretty good.

  3. Aron

    I agree with Billy here. I could absolutely not wait to get a new x-book in my hands, in those days. I was buying backwards and trading for issues I couldn’t find, with my friends. Gimme gimme gimme! Now I read one and think, “I can’t believe I just spent 4 bucks on that weak crap. AGAIN!” Maybe I’ll just read my old stuff and spend the money buying further backwards and filling in my holes.

    The X-Books are like the hot mom that was in your neighborhood when you were growing up. Hot, then, and you couldn’t stop drooling over her. When you go to check out that hot mom, now, she’s old and wrinkly and smells like cigarettes and cheese.

  4. Jeff Jackson

    Fair enough. And I’m not saying that if you were to read those you wouldn’t have the same opinion, and I wonder if the X-franchise will ever hit the stride it had in the ’90s, but I am an X-Men loyalist. I will probably continue to read X-Men no matter what. It’s like my equivalent of a sports team. 🙂

    However, that said, I do think that companies like Image and other independent companies are putting out WAY better material that Marvel or DC. That’s the exciting thing to see in the future of comics.

  5. Billy

    @Aron- Exactly!
    @Jeff- Again, I’m the same way with The Avengers. But I’ve got to admit, my patience is wearing thin. I think Marvel has the mindset of “oh well, its got Wolverine and Spidey in it, so it will sell regardless of the quality of story”. That attitude isn’t getting it done for me, so Marvel has partially lost one of their zombies. 🙁

  6. capekiller

    The X-Men almost single handedly saved Marvel and were their flagship series (Uncanny) for a long, long time. Every series has it’s ups and downs. Uncanny is still, overall, the greatest series Marvel has ever produced.
    A plague on both Billy and Aaron’s houses!

  7. Billy

    @Cape- I think overall, Avengers has been better (issue #1 until now). This has been one long “down” though man. I can’t recall ever thinking this poorly for this long ever about the X-Men.

  8. The X-Men are and always will be the best thing Marvel has going. They have had good periods and not so good periods but things (currently) are not as bad as they have been in the past. X-Men are my comics staple and I have been reading them since X-Men #1 (second series). From that issue until Onslaught will always be my personal “ideal” X-Men time, but I think you judge them a bit too harshly here, especially if you haven’t even been reading them. Also, I take offense to your “who cares” if Jean Grey comes back comment. SMH

  9. I’m going to have to completely disagree with you. I think the X-Men represent the best of what Marvel is. And while some recent stories have been questionable of late (Legacy post Second Coming, X-Men post Spiderman,) for the most part I’d say you’re missing out.
    To be honest, I didn’t actually read your entire review :), but I can’t imagine who you’ve been talking to and what reviews you could be reading that didn’t get you interested in X-Factor. I mean, Peter David’s entire run has been solid on that book. Uncanny X-Force has been fantastic, as was the X-Force book that came before it. And even a little older than that, I thought Utopia was fantastic. Then there’s X-23 which has been a great read ever since it started. Uncanny X-Men had a bit of a rough patch when transitioning from Fraction to Gillen, but it has regrouped since then. And actually, I thought Age of X was a great read in Legacy.
    Give me an X-book over an Avengers book any day of the week!

  10. Billy

    @Nick & Arnab- I hear you guys, but when I think of great X-Men stories, I think 80’s & 90’s all the way, and then compare current stuff to those stories. In my opinion, the writing now is pitiful compared to that stuff, hence my frustration. Now, maybe that’s a little unfair of me, but still, do you actually believe anything in the last ten years can stand up to Phoenix /Dark Phoneix Saga, Days of Future Past, God Loves, Man Kills, Mutant Massacre, Fall of the Mutants, X-tinction Agenda, X-cutioners Song, Fatal Attractions, Phalanx, Age of Apocalypse, etc.?

  11. capekiller

    @Billy House of M was better than them all!

  12. Billy

    @Cape- good story for sure. Better than those classics…no way!

  13. capekiller

    Well, I gotta say, that I have been reading comics religiously since the late 70’s, and I think the “classics” are mostly over-hyped. A lot of what you mentioned are good stories, but I feel as though people slap the title “classic” on something and suddenly it is given some weird untouchable status. This is a lot like athletes. Watching old footage of Ken Dryden in net, I’m pretty sure he wouldn’t make a farm team now with that funky style. Back then, All Star. I think “classic” comic stories have to be treated the same way. Put them in context, they are great. But this is coming from a 40 year old life long comic reader, they are no match for todays books!

  14. Capekiller

    Don’t fall into that trap man. I hate the word “classic”. Seems like as soon as that word is used the medium is untouchable. Far too often, classic is another way of saying outdated or maybe good considering it’s time. The stories you mentioned are great; don’t get me wrong, but as someone who has been following the X-Men religiously for about 38 years I found House of M far superior to the stories you mentioned. Ken Dryden was a great goalie in his time but he wouldn’t even make a farm team in today’s day in age. I actually avoid going back and reading too many X-Stories from my youth because I like to pretend I remember how awesome they were. Mutant Massacre is a perfect example. A few years ago I filled some gaps (X-Factor) thinking it would just solidify the awesomeness of this series. Boy was I surprised to find that the story was no where near as good as I remember it. I think I am one of the few old timers who you won’t hear say, “Back in the good ol days…”

  15. I’d love to see Comicattack’s staff comprehensive top 20 list of X-Men stories.

  16. Billy

    …wait a minute, how many Capekillers are there here? Listen, its an opinion or prerogative. Most stories these days that I read, have very lazy writing. Writers seem to think foul language, sexual innuendo, and an infinite number of action scenes make a good book. Well, I don’t. Yes therer are some more cerebral writers out there (Brubaker, Morrison, etc), but they are few and far between. I don’t label everything from the 70’s & 80’s “classic” or “great”, but I sure see a lot less really good writing now more than ever. Just a sidenote too, I don’t think just because one has been reading comics since whenever, that qualififes them as a better voice to what is or is not a great read. 🙂

  17. capekiller

    My first response disappeared, so I typed up a second.
    I didn’t want to say anything, but since you brought it up……
    I don’t think it is my years of reading experience that make me a better judge. I think it is the fact that I actually read X-Men books! The more mileage as a reader thing just makes me smarter….

    Don’t get sore. I think this is a great topic to discuss…there youngin….

  18. Billy

    @Cape- I don’t get sore over funny books dude. I’ve read a few hundred X-books, so I think I’m good to go in that department as well. “Youngin”…are even a whopping 2 years older than me? Lmao, no offense, but 2 years don’t mean jack! 😀

  19. capekiller

    I’ve told you over the years Dun, it’s not the age, it’s the maturity level!

    You know I love you bro. I’m just trying to pull your chain.

    That said, I really do think the classic stories for Marvel are highly over rated. I think House of M, Civil War and Messiah Complex blow them out of the water. The only thing I meant by the age thing is that most older comic readers remenisce about the “good ol days”. I usually find myself in the monority for 40 year old comic readers when I say that I prefer new comics to old. That’s all that was pointing to.

  20. Billy

    **edit** “are you even”. lol

  21. Billy

    @Cape- Be careful, my chain is kinda rusty. I loved Civil War (more Avengers story than X-Men though), House of M was good as well. Messiah Complex was pretty good to, but my personal “newer” favorite is Rise & Fall of the Shi’Ar Empire. I’m just very disappointed in the last 3 years especially. To me, the X-Men have really been boring, inconsistent, and generally lacking anything that resembles the quality even those stories had from 5-10 years ago.

  22. Duuuude.

    You can’t rant if you haven’t read.

    That’s all.

  23. Billy

    @Andy- I’ve read up until basically 6-9 months ago and that was most of the rant, besides, why read reviews, chirps, or listen to word of mouth about any books then for that matter? It seems logical to me that if staunch X-readers aren’t speaking highly of X-books then they must be atrocious since I did read them last. So why would I pick them up again? What’s the incentive? 😉

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